Welcome to my office. Come on in. Let me give you the guided tour.
As you can see, this is the door. Odd thing, isn't it. Most people aren't used to having them at work. I can close it when I need just that little bit of extra quietness and isolation while I concentrate on that particularly tricky bit of code. It also opens to... well... open up the space.
Moving on you can see my desk. Well, some of it. A teacher of mine used to have a sign on his desk that read "If a cluttered desk indicates a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk indicate?" I know it's not the tidiest, but it has what I need to do my job right now. That piece of paper half under my keyboard? That's my doodle pad. Despite everything technology has to offer, there are sometimes when you just cannot beat paper and pen to assist the old grey cells.
Laptop, desktop, tablets, phones. Why yes, they do stay out on the desk, and no they are not security attached. Why do they need to be? Despite the dozens of people like you who I invite in here each day, there's no one to take anything away.
Oh, you noticed. Yes, that window does open. Yes, I can adjust the blind. Yes, that's a light bulb in that lamp and in the light fitting above you. No, sorry. No florescent tubes.
How about some music? You might not like my taste today. Maybe tomorrow's selection will be better. Today's concentration music might be tomorrow's distraction so it's a bit hit and miss as to if you'll get along with it.
Ah the chair. It might not be one of those hugely expensive ones that you're used to, but it's comfortable - I made sure of that in the shop before I bought it - and it's adjusted just right for me. No one has ever tried to take it for their desk either.
What do I think is the best thing about my office? Simple. It's mine. It is set up the way I want, the way that works best for me, the way that allows me to be the most productive.
So this begs the question: why do so few companies in this fair isle of ours allow remote working? I know we're only a small country so traveling about isn't too bad compared with some of the larger countries. But I still like to have a life outside of work and commuting impacts that.
I've worked at a place that is a little over 50 miles away from my home. Why? Because this daft country seems to want to cram as many businesses as it can into one city and I don't live in it. That's a drive of an hour minimum each way, generally longer because of the traffic. So suddenly my 8 hour day becomes at least 10, usually 11. Of course I don't get paid for those extra hours.
On the contrary, they cost me. Petrol costs, servicing costs, it all adds up, especially when you're putting about twice the average mileage on your car. Public transport won't help as it's a 20 minute drive to the nearest train station, and it doesn't go anywhere near the office anyhow. So with having to take multiple modes of transport it takes twice as long as driving. Not to mention the cost. It costs almost as much per week to park the car at the station as it does to fill it with petrol.
And I won't even mention the environmental impact. Or the impact on my family life.
So I ask you; why won't you let me work remotely?
Here's what I can think of from the point of view of a lowly developer rather than a manager.
You don't trust me to actually do work when I'm not in an environment where someone can look over my shoulder whenever they want. Well if that's the case, why did you hire me if you don't trust me?
I'm writing code. That code has to go somewhere so if you feel the need you can look at that. You can get demos whenever you want to see progress. In fact I insist on it so you can make sure what I'm producing is what you want.
I'm working on a team. If I'm not producing the same amount/quality/etc. code as my team mates then either I'm goofing off or I'm not that good a coder. In either case you made a mistake in hiring me and you should get rid of me as you'd get the same result if I were in the office.
Ah, you're from the school of thought that says the team that plays together, stays together. You know what? I don't need to be physically next to someone to be able to communicate and get on with them. I've got on really well with people I've never met in person.
Did you not get the memo? People increasingly live their lives on-line these days. There are plenty of ways of communicating. In real(ish) time there are things like IRC and Slack. In real time there are things like appear.in, Hangouts and Facetime. There's even e-mail for those non-urgent things. And what's that thing that we used to use before The Internet? The telephone, that's it.
You're worried that my home network doesn't have all the protections that your corporate network has. I get it. Well I have to tell you that I trust the integrity of my network that only has a few people on it than yours with your tens, hundreds or even thousands, any of who could open up that email that looks like it has come from the HR department.
If you are going to let me use my own equipment in your office then what's the difference? Aren't you putting your network at risk by letting me plug my laptop in to that Ethernet port or attach my tablet to your WiFi? If you're going to supply me with equipment, built and configured to your security standards, then what does it matter if it's connected to your network, my network or the coffee shop network?
VPN access into your network is easy to set up, lock down and monitor if you want to host your git repository internally instead of somewhere like github or bitbucket.
When I worked in a devops role the company were more than happy for me to work remotely when I was on-call. Something went wrong with a server at 2am? Get on the laptop, hop on the VPN and fix the issue. So why can't I do that now just because I'm doing development instead of devops?
So this is my office, and my reasons for wanting to be here. Will you allow remote working? It has a lot of benefits for both of us. I feel so much more refreshed in the morning when I haven't had an hour of intense concentration on the road and the stress of traffic jams. My environment is optimised for me to get the best out of me, without having to compromise because there are other people here. I'm connected and available. Please give it a chance.
Thanks for coming in. To end the conference just click on the "hang up" button. Good to see you.
Darren @ Æ